Promotions, promotions!

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of doing an interview for the radio to promote the haunted house. I didn’t get a copy of it, although I was told it sounded good. 

This past Saturday, J.R. Daoust of the Northern News came to visit our event, and he wrote a terrific article for us. I love the group shot, too. We were missing several students who couldn’t be there, but it still represents the collective team and their efforts:   

Can you see me in the upper right, at the back? Lol, so silly!

In other promotional news: my main publisher, Melange Books, is holding a Hallowe’en Sale, so you’ve got an opportunity to pick up a couple of my works at a discount! And why not? I love writing spooky stuff for you! 

Take a look at Spellbound 2011, which includes my short story “Telltale Signs”, only $0.99 until November 7, as well as the first book of my Talbot Trilogy, Wind and Shadow, at the special price of just $2.99, also until November 7! 

   
 Be careful, though — the Talbot Trilogy is rather addictive. Fortunately, it’s also a hell of a ride. Fair warning: the trilogy is explicit, very steamy, and gory, and by the final book, Crystal and Wand, it includes LGBQT material. 

Happy Hallowe’en Week!

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How I Spent my Sunday

I made this video to promote our event!

Enjoy!

In which Alyssa begins to connect with her houses . . . in very different ways

The bathroom in Alyssa’s rented house would have been perfect with one of those old-fashioned club-footed bathtubs in it, especially with the sweet little octagonal stained glass window that was set high in the wall over the toilet, next to the sink. But someone at some point in the house’s history had put in a one-piece surround that was so cheap, it had a deep rust-coloured ring around it that no amount of scrubbing would remove. Alyssa had tried everything from her grandmother’s favourite, Comet, to Scrubbing Bubbles, to plain old bleach, but nothing worked. 

At the very least, she reminded herself with every shower, she knew it was clean. And it was only herself, after all. If she ever had company over, her pretty flowered shower curtain would hide the appearance of the tub. 

Turning the water on before undressing, she leaned toward the mirror to pluck away some unwanted hairs while the stream heated up. The warming air and steam were reassuring, but when she looked over at the tub, Alyssa sagged with disappointment. “Damnit, not again!” she cursed aloud. 

The water was red.

Stomping as she crossed back to twist the taps off again, Alyssa stifled an urge to kick the tub, knowing it would only result in a broken toe. “Stupid rusted pipes. Getting what I paid for, I guess.” She tried the hot water again, but it was clear. The cold was the problem: it flowed richly, darkly tinted, the flakes of rust swirling like clots of blood around the drain.

Alyssa turned it on full-force to flush the pipe. When it was finally clear, she let the tub drain fully, wiped it down with an already-stained old towel, and then started the whole process of finding her temperature again. 

By the time she stepped out, freshened and dripping, the sun was no longer shining through the stained glass. She realized with dismay that because she still wasn’t quite used to living alone, she’d forgotten to leave a light on downstairs again.

The bathroom was suddenly a bastien of safety, warmth and light, even with the awful red stain around the white tub. And the way the red stoplights at the intersection nearby gleamed through the sections of coloured glass, the window evenly partitioned like the iris of an eye. Suddenly Alyssa didn’t want to stay there, either. A shiver crawled up her spine, a half-remembered moment from a childhood sleepover. Something about Mary in the bathroom, and what you’d see in the mirror if you said her name three times. 

Alyssa avoided looking in the mirror. She snatched her bathrobe off the back of the door, gripped the doorknob, and took a breath.

“Stop it with the overactive imagination, Lyss,” she told herself, firmly. “It’s just nighttime. Nobody in the house but you. There’s no such thing as — as that.”

But there was the dollhouse, sitting in the darkness of her kitchen, its rows of empty windows staring out like dead eyes in the face of a skull . . .

Ashamed of herself, Alyssa vowed never to tell anyone that she was a big scared baby in her own home. She opened the door a crack, her hand faltering on the knob, and reached a finger out just enough to hit the light switch in the hallway. Her heart beat faster at the thought that something might brush her finger back, or be still visible in the light, but —

“I’m an adult!” she cried out. She swung the door open and stepped into the hallway.

Of course, it was empty. 

Retying her belt with emphasis, Alyssa jutted her chin high and marched down her stairs to make a cup of tea. And turn the rest of the lights on.

The white shell of the dollhouse was only creepy for the short time it took her to locate the switches on each of her living room lamps, but she studiously looked the other way, even averting her eyes when she walked past it into the kitchen. With the steady glow of electric light passing through its open, curtainless windows, they no longer looked quite so freakish. Alyssa filled her kettle and set it to boil, and then perched on her counter, one foot propped on a nearby chair, contemplating what to do with it next.

“I could always cover you with a sheet for the night,” she said to the dollhouse. “But picture you with light glowing through the windows and the sheet — kind of a reverse Caspar. Not sure about that. What if I come down for a midnight snack later, and I’ve forgotten you’re there? Big hulking white sheet in the middle of my kitchen, that’s going to give me a heart attack.” Alyssa shook her head, hopped back down from the counter, and went across to the pantry cupboard to choose her tea. 

Once there, she paused, her hand outstretched over the boxes of orange pekoe and lavender and chamomile. “That’s funny, I smell roses. But I don’t have any rosehips.” Alyssa turned around and saw a few dried petals on the floor. Realizing they’d fallen from the dollhouse and she’d stepped on them, she suddenly had a wonderful idea. “Oh, that’s PERFECT!”

Ignoring the faint warning whistle of the tea kettle, she dashed back up the stairs to the second bedroom, where she had some souvenirs from family events in a box. Among them was an old throwing bouquet from a cousin’s wedding, made of large silk flowers like peonies and daisies. She snatched it up and rushed back down to the kitchen, where she rescued the kettle before holding the lei up to the dollhouse’s windows.

“That is cool,” she told herself praisingly. The peony petals were long and wide enough to cover the windows like curtains, and their pale pink shades seemed to compliment the old-world paint textures. “Maybe with some glue, or tacks . . .”

Alyssa poured her tea, contemplating the best way to turn silk flowers into curtains that would fill the empty eyes of the soulless dollhouse.

In which Alyssa brings the creepy dollhouse inside . . . Smart choice?

Alyssa had rented the little detached one-and-a-half storey house for the simple reasons that she liked her privacy and the money was right. If it had cost any more, she’d have had to look for a roommate, but the old post-war home was barely big enough for one person, let alone two. Her savings from her high school jobs and what her grandparents had left her in their wills had to last the duration of her internship, and whatever time it took to get a real paycheque coming in after that. Sure, it had two bedrooms on the second floor, but they were tiny by her standards. Two months into moving in, she still hadn’t quite decided whether the second bedroom was going to be her walk-in closet and dressing room, or an office space. 

If she could have turned the dirty dollhouse into a full-size home with some kind of magic, she would have in an instant, although it probably would have flattened the similarly compact homes to her left and right. 

She’d managed to be so productive over several weeks, emptying boxes and putting them in the crawlspace under the kitchen for moving back out, that there was no other place to put the damned plaything than on her kitchen table. She looked back and forth between the clean surface and the floor, debating the merits of setting it under the table but having bending over to pick it up again. Even if she put it on the table, she’d have to cover the formica first with a garbage bag or something, since she didn’t own anything as old-fashioned as a table-cloth. Alyssa bit her lip, uncertain as to her next move.

With the ache in her arms increasing, she made a quick decision. Using her foot to pull the two kitchen chairs together, Alyssa set the dollhouse down on their joined seats with a grateful sigh. Her next instinct was to wash her hands, but she forced herself to wait, opening the trap door by the stove (such a weird place for access to the foundation, but whatever) to retrieve a large-ish flattened box, dust it off, cut open a fold so it would lay flat, and align it to the edges of the tabletop so no corners would stick out and poke her on the way to the fridge or wherever she needed to go. That done, she transferred the dollhouse to the table, wiped down the chairs, and then, she scrubbed her hands. 

“That second bedroom’s definitely going to have to be an office,” she said to herself aloud. “Not going to get any paperwork or studying done down here, at least for a while.”

Thankful that she’d taped the landlord’s number to her fridge door the day that she’d moved in, Alyssa pulled out the trusty old flip-phone that she’d had since she was twelve to call and let him know about her find. 

“That’s strange,” she murmured, pulling it away from her ear. “Why are you all staticky? You’re a good phone. It better not be time to replace you — you’re a Nokia, for Christ’s sakes!”

As if in response, the sound of static increased. No calling out, then, because Alyssa hadn’t bothered to request a landline from Ma Bell. She’d figured her trusty cellular would be enough. Shaking her head, she went to put a reminder in her tablet to go looking for a new, perhaps refurbished, cheap mobile phone the next day. And then to take a shower. 

On her way up the narrow stairs, she looked back at the dollhouse now occupying her entire kitchen table, and did a quick double-take. 

Were those lights inside?

Alyssa backed down the few steps she’d mounted, and checked her front window curtains. No, they were closed, and there was nothing for them to reflect off of in the dollhouse anyway. No glass, no brass, nothing remotely shiny.

“Maybe just some late-season fireflies?” she wondered. “Sorry, guys. You’re not going to last long in this house, either.”

She saw a single light flicker and go out in an upper room. Tsking at the fate of the dying bugs, she turned around and went to her shower without another thought about it.

October Dark

There is a certain difference to the blackness of night in October. In September, the night is still optimistic — there is a residual, lingering hopefulness and life. In November, everything is sleeping or dead, only awaiting the shroud of snow to bed it down.

But October…

October is the time for the dying to complete itself.

The sun goes down, and even with moonrise, the dusk is pensive. The stillness is not natural. The land feels like it is waiting for the cross-over, a steady but almost imperceptible slide into death and silence. You can sense the energies wafting invisibly past — the spirits whose time is pressing closer, until the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest and they may make their best efforts to contact living beings. The October dark is the calm before some kind of storm…the tension before essential news is delivered…the closed curtain on a quiet stage before the drama is unleashed.

I think I had a visitor last night.

I remember distinctly waking up, but not opening my eyes. It was the same feeling I have when my daughter comes padding in because she can’t sleep, that eerie sensation of being watched. But normally, when she comes in, if I pretend to be asleep she will whisper my name to wake me up.

Last night, I felt watched, but heard nothing.

I kept expecting to hear my daughter say “Mommy” to wake me up so I could take her to the bathroom, but there was nothing. To say that it was creepy is a bit of an understatement. I was scared to open my eyes. I wanted to look, but at the same time, not knowing what I would see, I just couldn’t do it. I felt silly. There was probably nothing there. If I had been brave enough to look, I know there was probably nothing there.

But that certainty still lingers in me.

I felt it again earlier, when I let the dog out in the back yard and felt that oppressive, October dark. It was not evil, or good, in any Hollywood sense of the term. Simply…something.

In the corner of your eye…

When you see movement, or a shadow… A reflection where one should not be… Do you dismiss it? Or investigate?

Do you believe in ghosts?

I’ve shared my story of our haunted house on T. Fox Dunham’s blog, Fox True Ghost Tales Project: http://foxghosttales.blogspot.ca — I’d love your comments, and there are many spooky-but-true tales to chill your blood for this Hallowe’en!